Your flight has landed and the meeting is still a day away. Time to get your luggage off the conveyor belt, arch those shoulders and let the salty scent of Aamchi Mumbai tingle in your nose. Walk out of Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport, right past the persuasive taxi drivers and away from the cacophony of landing planes and shrill announcements.
When the airport is about 3 minutes behind you, put your toe on the road and pull your pants up to the knee. Cars will be drawn to you like bees to a pot of honey, and then you can take one to Ville Parle Station (INR 20). Yes, we go the local way. No, taxis are not an option with 24 hours in Mumbai (don’t be a spoiled brat, okay?).
Read also: Winter Delicacies of India!
Pinch yourself in to the local area with your bag and luggage intact and get ready for the 45 minute drive to Churchgate. When zipping south from Mumbai, reflect on what the farthest INR 10 has you (no, the 90s don’t count here). This ride just might be it. When you get off at Churchgate, make sure your step has a spring as Colaba awaits, a 10 minute taxi ride (INR30) away. Disembark at Leopold and feed your famished self with a steaming, delicious pasta that goes best with a chilled beer. After the paet pooja you are ready to conquer the Gateway of India.
The Gateway of India is a meandering 5-minute walk from Leopold’s, but it’s highly recommended that you make stops along the way to admire the architecture, click a few selfies, and just enjoy the general vibe of the city. You will see the majestic Taj suddenly confront you on a bend and when you regain your breath continue walking along the side towards the Gateway. You walk past Pashupati Arts, and if your mom likes antiques (they rarely do), wander in and pick something for her. Go to the Gateway with your shopping.
Touts writing out their offerings, peddlers selling masala channa (spicy pea concoctions for the picky), milling boats and sea-beaten border walls – the Gateway of India has an atmosphere throbbing with palpable energy and activity. It’s easy to lose yourself in this organized chaos and to find a sense of calm in all these actions. It is recommended to do that.
After sightseeing, shop at Colaba’s street markets for either colorful clothes or junky jewelery or head to your next stop. I would do the first. Just say it.
Continue your beach walk to Marine Drive and feast your eyes on the sights Mumbai offers. There’s a strange excitement to letting the cool ocean breeze rustle your hair. Feel it. Be a child. Surrender yourself to the juxtaposition of the ancient and modern on this walking tour. And if this experience makes you smile, jump just 5 steps on this walk. It will make you happier, pinky promise.
Find the Natural’s Ice Cream outlet on Marine Drive and rediscover the joy of fruit ice cream. If you’ve never had Natural’s before, this is a MUST do. If you’ve had it, it still is. (I have to charge them commission). When your batteries are charged and the ice cream is a nice dollop in your stomach, make your way to Peddar Road. Watch the city’s elite drink and drink, and if your shopping spree isn’t satisfied, there are plenty of luxury brands to (nicely) dent your bank account here. From here you can walk to Siddhivinayak Temple and make a wish.
If you’re in town on a Tuesday it gets busier than usual, but the feeling of oneness with the higher is unbeatable. Don’t forget to take home some prasad for your loved ones! Next stop, Haji Ali Dargah.
The view of the stark white dome and needle-thin minarets of Haji Ali Dargah against the clear blue horizon, with the Arabian Sea stretching into eternity in the background, is one of Mumbai’s most striking visual icons. Don’t forget to capture the sight with your camera, it will always be awe-inspiring. When you’re done paying your respects here, take the local to Lower Parel, because now it’s Bandra time! When you get off, take a taxi to Bandra, enjoying the Bandra-Worli seal.
When in Bandra, prepare to rub shoulders with the stars! Take a walk to Galaxy Apartments, do the typical tourist thing and get clicked outside Salman Khan’s house. Join Bandstand and repeat, only this time through Shah Rukh Khan’s residence. Upload them to your Facebook wall and make your couch potato, non-traveling friends jealous – while you grab a hot cup of coffee and enjoy the sun setting on the sea side, as the likes and comments roll in!
Stroll through the Bandra street market and if your eyes tire of the bustling market, hail a car and head to Juhu. The drive takes around 45 minutes depending on the friendliness of Mumbai traffic and should set you back around INR 130. You can do some more celebrity house stalking here, or just wander over to the Prithvi Cafe and let Bollywood come to you come.
There is usually a show at the theater here, each one remarkable as the other. Sink into the comfy seats here (you’ve earned it!), rest your heels and let the skilled performers surprise you. Afterwards, sip an Irani Chai and enjoy a brownie (calories? What’s that?), before heading back to your hotel and putting the finishing touches on tomorrow’s presentation.
You forgot everything, didn’t you?